Laptop “Audiophile Audio Interface” – An Oxymoron

Bob Katz 1 Comment

From: Thomas Dignan

My comments are: Using from laptop. Connecting to stereo via earphone jack, thru monster cables, to audio input on amplifier. There is considerable noise from the earphone jack. There must be a better way (scsi,etc) to feed the audio signal to the ampliphier. Any products, sites, etc, you can recommend. I am also looking to buy a new laptop so I can start from scratch. Thanks. -Tom Dignan

Dear Tom:

Computers and “audiophile sound” will never meet. There is too much interfering noise within a computer enclosure to get good sound on an analog output without costly circuitry and shielding. I would suggest a sound card with a digital audio output, to feed an audiophile-quality D/A converter connected to your system. For laptops there are some USB-based interfaces or PC-card interfaces with S/PDIF digital connectors. Or use a Firewire Interface with integrated D/A.

Hope this helps,


Comments 1

  1. I beg to differ!
    Back in the late 90s I have tried Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card, and it sounded much more dynamic and had far less noise than the typical Sound Blaster.
    I was disappointed to see that little marvel of engineering at relatively low price go unnoticed and underappreciated for its sound quality. People wanted it for gaming, and apparently it suffered slightly in that department due to some driver/control issues.
    In the early 2000s I bought an Audiophile 2496 card, and its sound was slightly more dynamic than Santa Cruz but the noise was practically non-existent.
    Both of these cards were PCI, inside my computers, and they sounded amazing.
    I even recorded some recitations with an AT3035 condenser microphone (another low-priced engineering gem that was taken off the market, most probably because it was beating Audiotechnica’s own higher-priced microphones) using my own hand-built low-noise op-amp-based preamp (LM833) and inputting it through the RCA input of the 2496 PCI card. The recording sounded absolutely clear, as if the person was right there in the room, and the noise(floor) was audibly non-existent; if I turn the volume up all the way, I will hear an air-conditioner running somewhere a couple of rooms away from where we recorded, and very slight, if any, hiss that was almost inaudible under the conditioner sound.

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